Thursday, the The U.S. International Trade Commission, which oversees import laws, has identified Alphabet’s Google Infringed on audio technology patents Owned by the smart speaker company Sonos, this is a major victory for Sonos in the two-year David v. Goliath lawsuit. The committee stated that Google infringed five Sonos patents and issued a “limited exclusion order” prohibiting the import of certain audio technologies, controllers and components made by Google.
GoogleUnsurprisingly, it said it would not give in: it plans to appeal and has 60 days to do so before the ITC’s ruling takes effect. SonosAt the same time, two patent infringement cases against Google are still pending in the Federal Court. “The two pending lawsuits are important because ITC has no power to award damages,” said Peter Toren, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington, DC.
However, Google clearly expects that this may be the result of an ITC review, because as early as August 2021, the company Showcasing a series of product redesigns ITC Judge Charles Bullock, who identified the proposed workaround no Infringed Sonos’ patent. After yesterday’s ITC ruling, Google shared some of the changes it made to its smart speakers.
So what Do The ITC ruling may prevent all imports of certain products unless Google complies with it. Will this affect the product experience? On the one hand, the changes Google will introduce will apply to Google’s smart speakers and Nest Hub displays. Google has not provided a complete list of affected devices, so it is not clear how or whether this will affect other Google products, such as Pixel phones or Chromebooks. Spokesperson Nicol Addison said that these updates will be rolled out “in the next few days.” Currently, updates are all based on software.
Google said that the ability to adjust speaker volume in groups will disappear; customers now need to adjust the volume of each speaker individually. Moreover, “you will no longer be able to use the phone’s physical volume buttons to change the volume of the speaker set,” the company said. Unless the speaker is updated to the latest firmware, the projection function will also be affected on non-Google smart devices with built-in Chromecast (such as those made by Lenovo or JBL). And some users will no longer experience automatic software updates on their smart speakers; instead, they must download and install the device utility application. Google says this will “ensure that your device is connected to Wi-Fi and receives the latest software version.”
These changes may seem relatively minor, but a big part of the appeal of multi-room wireless smart speakers (Sonos helped open up the market when it was first introduced 20 years ago) is the ability to synchronize multiple speakers and control them at the same time. These changes will eliminate some ease of use.
The ITC ruling may also affect Google’s future design. Depending on the outcome of the federal lawsuit, there may be more changes. (One of them has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and suspended until ITC’s decision is finalized. according to New York Times. Another case filed in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco is pending. )